Monday, August 5, 2013

Ride Around Washington: Day 1

Day 1: Sunday, August 4 -- Lake Curlew State Park to Tonasket

Up an at 'em! It's time to ride! But dang it's early. 5:45am on my iPhone alarm clock as I rub my face and prepare to embrace the day. The sounds of tent zippers opening, bikes being prepared, quiet and not-so-quiet conversations are all around me. 

The blue sky and several puffy clouds is an indication that our day will be a good one. After tearing down the tent, packing my bag, and loading it on the luggage truck, Bryant and I headed up the short hill to breakfast. I had plenty and knew I needed the fuel. 

The view of Lake Curlew was a serene backdrop to our bacon, eggs, oatmeal, and coffee. 

After breakfast, the four of us--David, Jim, Bryant and I--rolled out of the park, turned left and headed up State Route 21. On our left I spotted three deer bounding through the woods as if they were leading the way.

The early miles were easy. All downhill on a slight grade. We passed through Malo, passed the Antique Truck Museum (not open until 10am) and checked out the ghost town of Curlew. Lots of property for sale here. Everything is closed. 

Then we turned west along the W. Kettle River Road. The road follows the peaceful Kettle River with rolling hills dotted by pine and fir trees to the north, just a handful of miles from the Canadian border. 

Our climbing began around mile 30 or so as we ascended up to Chesaw for lunch. This tiny community has a store, a tavern, a multi-purpose community building where a church service was concluding, and not much else. 

After lunch we climbed another nine miles to Sitzmark Ski Area for water and snacks. As I arrived, I could see a giant anvil-shaped thunder cloud to the north with a deep blue-purple sky behind it. I figured it was headed our way and I wanted to stay ahead of it. 

The good news was we had a 25-mile descent to take us into Tonasket. That was going to help. I rocked that downhill. Another cyclist, an older guy, was inching towards me as I checked my rear view mirror. I decided I was not going to let him catch me. So I turned on the heat and kept pushing it toward Tonasket. Some more downhills, a little flat section, a few rollers. Faster and faster. The other motivation to keep going fast was the impending storm cloud moving south from the Canadian border. At the end of the descent as we turned south onto US 97, he caught up to me and thanked me for the fun ride. Sometimes it's fun to try to catch another rider. He sure tried. Just then a flash of a lightning bolt hit the ridge to the west. I rode the remaining few miles through town to our overnight camp at History Park in downtown Tonasket. 

had the tent up under a tall fir tree before the rain came down. I beat the cyclist and the rain. That's a good Day 1 in my opinion!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You passed my old stomping grounds. I grew up in a house on the hill opposite the road from Sitzmark ski area. Looks like a fun ride - but a big hill getting up to Chesaw.